Just received our formal IRS determination letter: we are a bona fide nonprofit now, with a “community foundation” status. We have already scheduled meetings with key social leaders, and hope to launch operations by mid-year.
Our application for nonprofit status went into review in November. The IRS presented us with an seven page list of questions about our organization and intentions. No rubber stamp for us! We gave them a 38 page response, detailing our communication plans, bylaws, activities, operations, compensation, expenses, and sponsorship plans.
The last three were a particular focus for the IRS. As I wrote:
These areas are of equal importance to the Foundation, as well: sponsorship, and reasonableness of costs. A brief word on each:
Sponsorship, at its best, encourages businesses to share their time, talent, and treasure with their community. At its worst, it is an advertising program in a non-profit wrapper. Our plan stays true to both the letter and the spirit of the law. Potential sponsors have a reasonable interest in the marketing opportunities that accrue from sponsorship, and we are allowed to encourage their participation and persistence.
Are the leaders of a nonprofit compensated at an appropriate level, compared to others? Are the expenses relevant and appropriate to the fundamental activities and purposes of the organization? We have taken great pains to set salaries and benefits below the median for similar nonprofits.
As to expenses, we have very little that is inwardly focused at any point. The vast majority of expense is in the design, construction, and implementation of the fund raising kiosks, and in grant management systems – a must for us to serve a very large grantee base, and to correctly manage and report on our grantmaking activities to the IRS and others.
After phone conversations with the IRS, we were asked to abjure including a business sponsor to have a link from our website to their own – a common and allowed practice in the nonprofit sector. We gave them a Treasury Decision from 2002 specifically upholding our position.And then, nothing … for almost a month.
Today, I heard from the reviewing agent. Our file was closed just before Christmas, and our review was terminated. Which, in IRS-speak, is a good thing. We should have our formal notice in hand by late January!
Now for the next round: persuading multiple jurisdictions that fundraising in their backyard is actually a good thing for all concerned parties — especially the communities they serve. Wish us luck!
The startup phase for a nonprofit is a series of fits and starts. Some steps are effortless, others are maddeningly inefficient.
You also celebrate things that in other circumstances are worrisome — letters from the IRS, for example. Our application as a nonprofit has been in their hands since April. May the paperwork gods smile upon us!
Welcome to MyChangeMatters.org home of the Change Our Community Foundation. We are a new fundraising concept aimed at helping nonprofits gain valuable new revenue and exposure in high-traffic areas. In the coming months, we plan on taking our simple yet humble concept and growing it into a high functioning fundraiser that will help many, many nonprofits and the areas they service. We hope you will join us as we begin this new endeavour of teaching and giving nonprofits the resources to flourish.